Landscapes and Beings in Formative Practices

Leader: Associate Professor Bjørg Oddrun Hallås
Participants: Associate Professor Marianne Presthus Heggen, Associate Professor Hege Emma Rimmereide, Associate Professor Gunnar Karlsen, Associate Professor Anna Karlskov Skyggebjerg

The research on landscapes and beings analyze the formation of ecocitizens through aesthetic meetings with nature. The aim of research on landscapes and beings in formative practices is to explore how children’s own bodily and aesthetical contact with nature, understood as wilderness and cultural landscapes, informs didactic practices in pre-schools and schools. A core hypothesis is that teachers’ conceptions of the environment and their formative practices are vital to an understanding of the factors fostering children’s environmental awareness (Sobel 1996, Jordet 2007, Quinn et al. 2015). The understanding of nature as a first step in the formation of ecocitizens underlies the work with education for sustainable development in many Norwegian pre-schools (Sobel 1996, Heggen 2015). Similarly, outdoor education is used as a working method in schools (Jordet 2007, Hallås and Karlsen 2015).

The research component is carried out i n collaboration with BUC’s research group Nature as an arena for cultural formation. Didactic practices in wilderness and cultural landscapes will be examined in relation to the project’s analytical matrix.

The aims will be achieved through analysis and comparison of the role of bodily, ethical and aesthetic experiences of nature in didactic practices with those described and found in literature. Drawing on the concept of didactic space (Nyrnes 2002), central questions will be whether there is a difference in kind in bodily, ethical and aesthetical awareness of nature (Budd 2002) and if experiences and concepts of nature mediated by literature can replace or alter children’s experience of nature itself. The work will build on the idea that nature plays a special role in cultural formation, through its shaping of humans’ ethical, aesthetic and bodily competencies (Karlsen 2015, Thulin and Pramling, 2009, Änggård 2010). The methods will be observation, focus interviews with children and teachers, philosophical and student’s text analyses of the bodily, ethical and aesthetic experiences and concepts of nature found.